Sunday, 25 April 2010

Books, Gardens and Tom Jones

Garden: Yesterday we visiting Houghton Lodge gardens near the charming small town of Stockbridge, Hampshire, with its posh shops and galleries.  Houghton Lodge has three alpacas and a trout stream, an old walled garden with ancient knarled espalier fruit trees and a hydroponicum. A beautiful unusual old house, once a fishing lodge.  Here's their website, which explains about hydroponics - growing plants without soil.  At Houghton some of the flowers are in white gutters hanging from the greenhouse wall and apparently city dwellers should be growing their own veg in one of these special systems in future (Hm?)  Incidentally, I learned that orchids are in transparent pots because their roots like the light.

Reading. Just finished Small Wars by Sadie Jones.  It's a tense story set in Cyprus in the 50s and has, she reckons, resonance with current wars.  Hal is a typical Army officer of the day, it seems at first.  His beautiful wife Clara and the twins accompany him to Cyprus, where atrocities on both sides of the conflict start to have an effect on the closeness of their marriage.  Here's a review.
Sadie Jones doesn't shy away from describing bloody battles and indeed much of the narrative is from Hal's point of view.  The book is well researched.  She does get some tiny details of e.g. military etiquette wrong and I think it is brave of her to write about a war and a period that many alive will still remember. 
I used to know a great many traditional Army officers and, on reflection, I'm not entirely sure that Hal would behave as he did.  A good if harrowing read, but not quite as gripping as The Outcast.  I'll definitely read her next book.

Saw Tom Jones at the film club.  The DVD was somewhat blurry, but I still enjoyed the young Albert Finney. Animal lovers might find its rollicking hunting scene too gory.  Eating scenes great fun and full of gusto, of course.
Must admit the village hall seats are agony if it's a long film like this one.  Better on the sofa perhaps, with Tom?


Anonymous said...

I liked her first book. Glad to know this new one is worth reading.
Lovely manor and I'm crazy for all those daffodils.

JJ Beattie said...

I enjoyed The Outcast. I've got Small Wars on my TBR pile - I must get onto it.

LindyLouMac said...

I nearly picked Small Wars at the airport yesterday as part of the 4 for three offer, but came away with the Larsson Trilogy and the latest title from Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
I will leave it on my wishlist for now though, having read your comments.

Talli Roland said...

Beautiful photo!

I really enjoy Sadie Jones but i haven't read this one. Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

I remember enjoying the Tom Jones film very much too. Must plan a visit to Stockbridge and Houghton Lodge - thanks so much for the heads up!

Debs said...

What a beautiful place to visit.

I haven't read this book, but I'm glad you liked it. I'll have to put it on my wish list when I order more books.

Susie Vereker said...

Thanks for your comments. Rambling F, I think Stockbridge is worth a visit if it is on your way to Winchester but it's not a major tourist attraction. Houghton is in a lovely setting but it would appear to have less planting than some Hampshire gardens, though we did visit at a v.quiet time of the garden year, admittedly. And of course it is a private house rather than e.g. a Nat Trust.